Ba­jaj Avenger 180

Ba­jaj have beat the Marvel Cinematic Uni­verse to an Avenger re­boot. Here’s what its all about

Bike India - - CONTENTS - STORY: ANOSH KHUM­BATTA PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: SANJAY RAIKAR

Cool, com­fort­able and af­ford­able. Is it the cruiser you’ve been wait­ing for?

BA­JAJ BROUGHT THE CRUISER form to in­dia with the orig­i­nal, low-slung 175-cc elim­i­na­tor/avenger 17 years ago; a bike that suc­cess­fully carved a niche for it­self while grow­ing in ca­pac­ity to 180, 200 and, fi­nally, 220 cc. in late 2015, the com­pany in­tro­duced a 150-cc en­try-level vari­ant of the avenger, pow­ered by the en­gine from the pul­sar 150, mak­ing their at­trac­tive cruiser ac­ces­si­ble to an even wider au­di­ence and in­creas­ing the avenger brand’s mar­ket reach. Now, two and a half years later, the smaller avenger has come of age, with ca­pac­ity grow­ing to 178.6 cc cour­tesy the DTS-i en­gine from the pul­sar 180, and that’s the bike you see splashed across these pages.

at first glance, there isn’t much to visu­ally dif­fer­en­ti­ate this mo­tor­cy­cle from its 150-cc pre­de­ces­sor. the most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence is the re­designed head­light — now fea­tur­ing LeD DrL along its base, and nes­tled un­der an at­trac­tive, short fly-screen. the tail sec­tion has also been re­worked, smartly in­cor­po­rat­ing the fresh, sleek tail-light and giv­ing this ma­chine a con­tem­po­rary rear end. the sin­gle-pod round speedome­ter in­cludes a small dig­i­tal dis­play for odo and trip me­ters and fits in per­fectly with the cruiser theme. other mi­nor changes in­clude a new paint scheme and graph­ics, the proud 180 de­cal on the side panel, a padded grab-rail for the pil­lion, and a textured seat.

throw­ing a leg over and set­tling into the low, wide seat, i was im­me­di­ately in fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory. the seat is supremely com­fort­able, the bars are ideally placed, and the for­ward-set foot con­trols are easy to reach with­out hav­ing to stretch your legs out, re­sult­ing in an up­right, re­laxed rider tri­an­gle. a small fuel-gauge and tell-tale lights for neu­tral, high beam, turn sig­nals and bat­tery are sit­u­ated near the filler lid on the fuel tank in true cruiser fash­ion, and the ig­ni­tion is oddly placed just be­low the tank on the right side, mim­ick­ing some harleys/larger amer­i­can cruis­ers.

the en­gine fires up with­out hes­i­ta­tion, with a gruff ex­haust note that is rem­i­nis­cent of the Pul­sar 180. the two-valve, sohc, twin-spark en­gine makes 17 Ps at 8,500 rpm and 14.2 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm in the Pul­sar, but the same unit in the avenger makes 15.5 Ps and 13.7 Nm, again at 8,500 and 6,500 rpm re­spec­tively. ba­jaj claim that this has been done to rein in the high­strung na­ture of this en­gine, mak­ing it more laid-back and suit­able for the cruiser role.

on the move, the en­gine feels quite flex­i­ble, with fifth gear pulling from as low as 40 km/h and all the way up to triple-digit speeds. i found the gear­box to be re­fresh­ingly notch-free, and shifts were smooth and ef­fort­less in both direc­tions, even when hur­ry­ing through the cogs. al­though i saw an in­di­cated 120 km/h on an open stretch of road, though sus­tained cruis­ing at these speeds would get some­what tir­ing due to the vi­bra­tions com­ing in through the foot-pegs and the seat; the mo­tor­cy­cle and rider would be much hap­pier at 70 to 80 km/h in top gear, where the en­gine still feels quite smooth and has enough in re­serve to ex­e­cute a quick over­take or two. i did won­der if slightly taller gear­ing, to al­low higher cruis­ing speeds at lower revs, would have helped this bike’s cruiser im­age.

With a low cen­tre of grav­ity and that long 1,480-mm wheel­base, the avenger has al­ways been ex­tremely sta­ble out on the open road and, al­though cruis­ers aren’t re­ally built to cor­ner, this sta­bil­ity trans­lates into a rock-steady feel through a set of curves. the bike doesn’t re­ally want to tip in at first but, once leaned over, she feels ex­tremely planted and holds her line with min­i­mum fuss. in a bid to im­prove ride qual­ity over less

than per­fect roads, ba­jaj have in­creased the travel of the twin shocks to 108 mm from the pre­vi­ous bike’s 98 mm, rais­ing the seat height by five mil­lime­tres to 730 mm, and this def­i­nitely helps when rid­ing over pot­holes, even with two up.

With a larger en­gine comes more power and speed, and the need for in­creased stop­ping power. this comes in the form of a 260-mm disc up front, which is larger than the unit on the out­go­ing bike by 20 mm. the rear wheel con­tin­ues to get a 130-mm drum and there is still no abs on of­fer; we feel that it is about time this safety fea­ture made its way into all mo­tor­cy­cles. brak­ing power is suf­fi­cient, al­though i felt bite could be bet­ter, and the lever re­quires a pow­er­ful squeeze to shed

speed fast in an emer­gency. closer to the ground, wheels and tyres have been car­ried over from the avenger 150; the 90-sec­tion tyre on the 17-inch al­loy wheel up front and the 130-sec­tion hoop on the 15-incher at the rear do a great job and look pro­por­tion­ate on this mo­tor­cy­cle. this rub­ber con­sis­tently pro­vided am­ple grip and com­mu­ni­ca­tion un­der hard brak­ing, and a lot of con­fi­dence while cor­ner­ing.

With com­pe­ti­tion creep­ing into the cruiser space, ba­jaj have nailed it with this up­date, giv­ing the en­try-level avenger a larger heart, a mod­ern face and even in­cor­po­rat­ing cus­tomer feed­back to im­prove ride qual­ity. if you want to cruise along the high­way at sus­tained triple-digit speeds, you might want to look at the el­der 220-cc sib­ling, but for com­fort­able ur­ban com­mut­ing with the oc­ca­sional week­end ride or out-of-town jaunt, the avenger 180 street makes a com­pelling case for it­self.

New head­light with DRLs adds char­ac­ter

Front disc has got­ten 20 mm big­ger

Cock­pit is ideal for a cruiser

En­gine from Pul­sar 180 feels right at home here

Rear sus­pen­sion travel has in­creased by 10 mm

Re­designed tail-lamp and grab-rail look mod­ern

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